Antelope Valley hosts assault awareness discussion

Photo+by+Tamrah+Johnson%2FThe+Runner

Photo by Tamrah Johnson/The Runner

Tamrah Johnson

Reporter

 

CSU Bakersfield – Antelope Valley (CSUB-AV) hosted an open-house-style outreach program providing information about sexual assaults.

The event took place on its campus on April 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The event started with a screening of the CNN documentary “The Hunting Ground,” and it was followed by a panel discussion where professional staff answered questions and offered their perspectives according to their expertise.

“What are the numbers of assaults at CSUB?” asked Angela Johnson, senior in sociology at CSUB-AV.

“Per our Clery Report,” answered Claudia Catota, who is CSUB’s Title IX Coordinator, “It states very specifically what we need to report and our numbers say zero reported on campus. We know that it is really going on but it’s not being reported and when it is, it is outside of the university’s geography.”

Claudia continued to say that CSUB is still involved with issues involving students, faculty and staff that happens off campus and stresses the importance to report all crimes.

“It is not just the law enforcement’s responsibility or the government’s responsibility or the university’s responsibility,” said Rubella Alvarez from the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

She reinforced that it is a societal situation and believes that it is everyone’s responsibility from parents educating their children to building healthy relationships.

The Office of Student Rights and Responsibility is responsible for enforcing the student code of conduct including academic dishonesty, drugs, alcohol and sexual misconduct. Rubicella continued to say that finding information on CSUB’s website is easily accessible. Students just need to go to the website and enter the word “rape” or a keyword and information will pop up.

“We give them someone to confide in because a lot of people don’t want to tell anyone because they feel guilt or they feel ashamed or they feel that no one is going to believe me or everyone is going to blame me,” said Vanessa Corona, Campus Advocate and Education Coordinator. Therefore, her department has numbers because a lot of people just want to talk confidentially, see their reporting options, have a shoulder to cry on and not just hear “go to the police, go to the police.”

“Also, it’s not just women who are being affected by this. We know that men are being sexually assaulted.”

She said that she wants everyone, regardless of gender identity to feel comfortable and there are resources available to them without  judgment; no one is alone.

Additionally, the university is never going to hold underage drinking against students and they need to know that.  She added that a lot of people who don’t know that they can report anonymously as Jane or John Doe and she gives everyone positive coping mechanisms and will even meet with them somewhere or go to the doctor with them if they would like her to.

Another audience member was very glad that the documentary was shown and she believes that there should be more information and literature on the subject, not just during sexual assault awareness month.

She feels that schools should be accountable for bringing awareness to everybody since the statistics say zero reported.

“But you know now. Everyone in this room has learned something today,” replied guest speaker alumni Teresina Hone, CalWorks Program Manager at Valley Oasis.

She said that people can take what they learned today and tell other people because that is the way information spreads including networking, putting it on Facebook and accessing the documentary on YouTube.

“Starting this fall,” said Dr. Karen Coy, Counselor at CSUB-AV, “All students are required to take an online awareness training upon registration.”

This training will explain what sexual misconduct is and the various recording mechanisms on campus.  To me, this is an excellent way to spread information to all students.